We are always being told what to eat to make our skin clear and beautiful – avocados, walnuts, salmon, kale…the list goes on. Sometimes you can do all of this and much more yet still feel like you aren’t getting the results you want. January is detox season so a perfect time to tackle dull skin. The problem is that our skin is a very complex organ that relies enormously on the inner functioning of the body. If things aren’t working properly, then problems can manifest in the skin as acne, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis or simply as dull, listless skin. Sometimes, we need to dig a little deeper and try targeting specific internal systems in our bodies that our affecting our complexion.
Below are five such tricks to ensure you achieve that dewy glow:
1. Vitamin D
Absolutely vital for so many of your body’s functions – detoxification, immunity, brain function, hormones and digestion being but a few- it simply isn’t possible to be truly healthy if you’re deficient in vitamin D. Your skin needs all of these to work properly, so not getting enough vitamin D can indirectly impact your skin health.
This is why skin conditions clear up when we migrate to hotter climates where the sun shines (not to mention the lack of stress!) and vitamin D is plentiful. In the winter season, our vitamin D exposure levels start to dwindle, especially if we work indoors, so it is important to take steps to get more in from other sources.
Solution: Supplement with D3 Cholecalciferol – I like it as a spray as it’s super easy to put on, well absorbed and you can still control the dose. Otherwise an oral supplement or drops work well too. Ideally test your blood levels (most doctors will do this) first and if your Vitamin D low, go for 2000IU. Otherwise stick with 500IU daily over winter.
The best natural food sources for Vitamin D? Mushrooms (leave them out in the light to increase their vitamin D content) avocados and oily fish.
2. Silica – The Skin’s Secret Weapon
Collagen supplements are a big business in the skin world at the moment, but don’t forget that the body is pretty well set up to make its own collagen as long as it has the right resources. Enter silica – a mineral that is totally essential for that youthful, dewy glow. Silica is needed to synthesize new collagen which helps keep our skin strong and elastic, reducing the tendency for fine lines to develop.
Solution: Cucumbers are a fantastic source of silica, though make sure you keep the skin as this is where majority of it is found. Cucumbers are also very hydrating as they are mostly water, and are also a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Try juiced cucumber with ginger, lemon and mint – delicious and so great for your complexion. Leeks, green beans, celery, rhubarb and oats are also good source of silica.
3. Sip, Don’t Gulp!
We all know that water is needed for skin health – it’s not exactly groundbreaking information. The problem is that actually getting the water to your skin to hydrate it isn’t as simple as just necking it. Your kidneys can’t keep up as you gulp and you often don’t absorb as much as you drink.
Solution: Sip throughout the day, always having filtered mineral water on your desk at work to remind you. Buy good quality water and you will also be more likely to drink it. Warm water (with lemon, cayenne and ginger) is a great solution as you tend to drink it more slowly (in order to avoid burning your mouth!). Aiming for two litres a day and always ensure that your urine is transparent. Herbal teas such as ginger, green, detox blends, peppermint and chamomile also fall into this quota but black tea and coffee absolutely do not!
4. Don’t be Selective With Antioxidants
Antioxidants are synonymous with younger, age-resistant skin largely because of their ability to protect our cells from the damage caused by harmful free radicals (which we are all exposed to at every moment).
But it isn’t as simple as just eating blueberries. Each antioxidant protects our cells and shields us from various free radical compounds that cause damage in different ways.
Solution: To achieve a radiant, luminous complexion, it’s vital to get a whole complex of antioxidants from different sources. Antioxidants are responsible for the pigment in fruit & vegetables, so the more colour on your plate the better. Also aim to get in sources from nuts, oily fish, beans, pulses, green tea, ginger, garlic, parsley, turmeric and other spices such as cinnamon and cayenne pepper.
5. Protect Your Body’s Army
There are trillions of bacteria living inside your body and I won’t bother listing all the reasons why we need them. Suffice to say in case you haven’t gotten the bacteria memo, they are pretty important. You may not instinctively link them to skin health but actually, imbalances in gut bacteria can contribute to skin issues in many ways owing to their involvement with detoxification, immunity, hormone balancing, nutrient absorption, inflammation and anti-bacterial activity.
Because our gut bacteria is incredibly sensitive, many things can disrupt its balance from our environment to antibiotics, to the pill, to too much sugar or alcohol.
Solution: Eat foods rich in probiotics such as natural sugar free yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, pickled veggies, miso and tempeh. Also consider supplementing with a good quality probiotic as these top levels up properly. This is essential also if you have recently taken, or are taking, antibiotics. My favourite way of ingesting probiotics and supporting the skin as well is to add a greens powder supplement to a healthy juice or smoothie first thing – a perfect way to turbocharge goodness first thing and give the skin some glow. Go for the one that contains probiotics, herbs and an array of nutrient dense superfoods- the PERFECT accompaniment for a cleanse, detox or juicing programme.
An earlier version of this post was previously published on Alice Mackintosh.com.